“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.”
— John Muir
Our uncertain times today find us sitting more and moving less. A recent study by Iowa State University and Trinity College Dublin reported an average 32 percent reduction in physical activity once social distancing went into effect. We’ve become sedentary and anxious – and we should pay attention to this.
The good news is the solution is right outside your door – go for a walk.
Better yet, go for a saunter. A saunter is walking in a slow, relaxed manner without hurry or effort. Or, as I call it, meditation in motion.
By stepping away from our burdens, walking enables us to fight depletion by decompressing physically and mentally. We feel the motion of moving forward and establish a rhythm we can control. Walking renews our energy, which produces happiness and joy.
Happiness is an emotion we feel through personal achievement. Take a 30 minute walk and you’ll feel great. Joy is what we give others as they benefit from our redirected attention from us to them. For example, your walk may cause you to rethink a decision or realize a relationship you have been neglecting – a chance to get things right when you return.
Beyond the mental benefits of happiness and joy, the physical rewards of walking are clear. Lower blood pressure and cholesterol, weight loss, lower stress can all lead to a longer, healthier life. Amazing what a few steps can do to strengthen your vitals and lift you up.
I started my daily walking habit about seven years ago. Purchasing a FitBit, I joined a walking group and changed my life. The physical and mental health benefits were great – I also opened a new world to people and nature.
Walking around the corner of our street, I see the neighbor kids. They remind me of my grandchildren and how important they are in my life.
I pass our local river and marvel at the beautiful water. The kayaks remind me of the benefits of setting your own pace. I see the serenity as paddles are set down, and the kayaker allows nature to control the way forward.
By looking left and right as I walk, I see people and things I often neglect through my inattention. Walking helps me maintain my sense of humanity.
Three keys to enable walking to renew yourself and positively impact others:
Begin your walk by clearing your mind of burdens and fears. Remove what is blocking your best thinking by naming it – work, relationship, etc. Step by step, release the negative energy.
Once your mind has room for fresh thinking, reflect on gratitude and positive images. Start with what you are thankful for. Add thoughts about how you can positively address the changes needed in your life, reframing your way forward with solutions.
Return from your walk and enjoy your accomplishment, a rush of happiness. The next step is more important – share your refreshed mindset with someone else. Rather than jumping on the next Zoom call, seek out an opportunity to personally connect with someone who needs your attention.
Let walking help you capture the energy of the great outdoors to generate personal happiness and joy to others. Nature is our unconditional partner – always ready to provide us more than it seeks. Embrace the gift of stepping forward, and let the rewards flow within and beyond you.
All My Best,